Austin nonprofit Black Fret gave out $220,000 at its third annual Black Ball gala at The Paramount Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 10, where its 2016 grant recipients were announced in front of a sold-out house of over 1,100 attendees. Ten Major Grant Recipients each received a grant of $17,000. These artists include: Bee Caves, Carson McHone, Dan Dyer, Nakia, Ray Prim, Suzanna Choffel, Swimming With Bears, The Peterson Brothers, Walker Lukens and Wendy Colonna. Additionally, ten Minor Grant Recipients each received a grant of $5,000. These artists include Brownout, Calliope Musicals, Dana Falconberry, Daniel Eyes & The Vibes, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Harvest Thieves, Leopold and His Fiction, Magna Carda, Sweet Spirit and The Name Sayers. Grant presentations were made throughout the evening by a number of Black Fret sponsors and members, as well as Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a passionate supporter of Austin music.
Since 2014, Black Fret has awarded over a half a million dollars in grants to local Austin musicians . These grants have been used by Black Fret Artists to create and perform music, including 142 new songs written, 110 studio recordings, 56 new songs and videos released, 214 U.S. performances, 28 international performances and 58 community service performances for other local charities. This year alone, Black Fret has been covered in national media outlets such as Pitchfork (article here) and Forbes (article here) and is gaining momentum for what could eventually be growth into other markets in America.
“I’m still waiting for Kanye to show up at my door and tell me Beyoncé deserves this grant,” said grant recipient Ray Prim. “Seriously, on the real, I’ve been playing music in Austin since 1992 and this is THE best thing that’s ever happened to me hands down. From the first Black Fret show we played at the Scottish Rite Theater, I knew this organization was special. One of the members worked at a club we’d been trying to get into and saw us play that night…and just like that, we’re playing there within two weeks. Blew my mind. Before they scooped me up I put together a bucket list because I wasn’t sure how much longer I was going to keep going and needed something to motivate me. Within 11 months, Black Fret checked off six items…playing The Paramount being in the top three. Matt and Colin and the entire crew are heaven-sent and I’d take a bullet for them…well…I’d don’t know about a bullet, I’m allergic, but whatever else they need, I’m there. Black Fret is the real deal.”
“We’ve been told that a few bucks given to an artist today may one day result in the creation of someone’s favorite film or a song that saves someone’s life,” said grant recipient Bee Caves. “We feel extremely lucky to have been invited to join the Black Fret family and greatly appreciate the love and respect they’ve shown us. The financial support Black Fret provides will serve as a strong foundation for us to continue making our art and chasing down this ridiculous dream. ‘Thank you’ is not enough.”
“To feel the love for Austin Music at The Paramount as we awarded $220,000 to this year’s group of Black Fret Artists was an amazing experience,” said Matt Ott, Co-Founder of Black Fret. “It is an honor to stand on that stage while grants are awarded to such incredible talent. We are tremendously excited to continue building this community of support as we kick off our 2017 season on Jan. 21.”
The Black Ball was sponsored by title sponsor Dell Inc., as well as Deloitte Consulting, SunPower Inc., GSD&M, NY Life, Whole Foods Market and Personify. Media sponsors include KUTX Music 98.9, Austin Monthly, The Austin Chronicle, CultureMap and Do512.
“Having Dell as our first title sponsor for the Black Ball is a great vote of confidence from the leaders in our corporate community,” said Black Fret Founder Colin Kendrick. “With Deloitte, GSD&M, NY Life partner Erik Engh, Sunpower, Whole Foods and Personify all stepping up to help underwrite this event means we were able to award even more to our 2016 Black Fret Artists.”
In addition to their grants, all Black Fret Nominees have continued access to mentoring from Black Fret’s Advisory Board, which consists of 37 of Austin’s top music industry leaders. Newly added advisors include Codey Allen, Evan Blanc, Jen Dalton, Danny Gillespie, Layne Lauritzen, Michael Ramos, Dick Reeves, Chris “Frenchi” Smith and Graham Williams. Existing advisors are Mark Addison, Heather Alden, Roggie Baer, Pat Cassidy, Reenie Collins, Mike Crowley, Wofford Denius, CJ Eiriksson, Jim Eno, Nigel Finley, Will Hoffman, Jennifer Houlihan, Terrany Johnson, Terry Lickona, Weston McGowen, Davis McLarty, Marsha Milam, Matt Noveskey, Tim Palmer, George Reiff, Peter Schwarz, Carlos Sosa, Joe Stallone, Stuart Sullivan, Heather Wagner Reed, Kevin Wommack, Tom Vale and Rusty Zagst. For more information, please see www.blackfret.org/advisors.
“They’ve taken us in with open arms,” said grant recipient Leopold and His Fiction. “Black Fret, much like Austin, is a very rare music community, wishing success for everyone involved. It is encouraging and we’re extremely fortunate to be a part of its future.”
“I would like to express my deep appreciation to the folks of Black Fret who have given much thought, time and money to the organization, I am honored to accept a grant and proud to say that such a supportive community exists in my hometown,” said grant recipient Carson McHone.
Black Fret receives ongoing support from generous sponsors such as ALL ATX, Dell Inc., Deloitte Consulting, SunPower Inc., Gibson Brands, The City of Austin Economic Development Department – Music & Entertainment Division, GSD&M, Personify, Whole Foods, DeMaris Entertainment, Juice Consulting, Nomad Sound, Miscellaneous Rentals, KUTX, Austin Monthly, The Austin Chronicle, the Austinot, the Paramount Theatre, Biggs Electric, Enterprising People, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Ben E. Keith Distributors, County Line BBQ, Shady Grove and Frank.